A symposium is a depicted dialogue between a number of male participants on the theme of Eros or love. In the introduction, what is ”Eros,” and what are the different meanings of this words?

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The "Introduction" to Plato's Symposium discusses the ideologies Phaedrus , Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Alcibiades, and Socrates regarding their personal understandings and beliefs about eros (passionate love or desire). Each man, in an attempt to "out argue" the last, presents his own understanding of what eros is and how it...

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The "Introduction" to Plato's Symposium discusses the ideologies Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Alcibiades, and Socrates regarding their personal understandings and beliefs about eros (passionate love or desire). Each man, in an attempt to "out argue" the last, presents his own understanding of what eros is and how it exists within the world around them.

Phaedrus speaks first; he defines eros as possessing the charcteristic of arete (Greek for "excellence"). By loving someone, one is "inspired to pursue honour [sic] and perform noble deeds." Therefore, in doing this, one is attempting to "bring out the best in one."

Pausanias agrees with Phaedrus, and he takes this idea a little further. Pausanias states that one must seek out arete in order to prove eros, yet in order to do so, one must also seek out excellence in one's soul. By focusing on the excellence of the soul, one is sure to be morally good and the level of eros deepens. The deepening of eros happens as the result of one's effort to become attracted to another's soul and not simply another's physical attributes (superficial eros).

Eryximachus, like the others, agrees with those who have spoken before him. Once again, he adds another dimension to the conversation. He believes eros exists when "the correct lover" possesses expertise. Eryximachus has taken the conversation to a physical level. Yet, his argument goes far deeper than just a physical connection. Instead, he states that by understanding that eros must include a connection on the level of the soul, one must be able to "harmonise" [sic] with his or her partner. By knowing one's partner on a soulful level, true eros is most likely. Although he makes a good argument, his points do fail to state exactly how this type of connection relates to the soul.

Aristophanes changes the movement of the symposium when he speaks next. For him, he believes humans to be "needy creatures who strive towards a state of self-realisation [sic] and happiness." He believes that eros is the result of those who come together in order to complete themselves. They seek out a partner who can make them "whole." Therefore, according to Aristophanes, eros is something that helps to make a person feel complete.

Agathon argues that no one, to this point, has been successful at defining and explaining eros. He believes that eros is only obtained when "lovers" are "supremely beautiful and virtuous." It seems here that Agathon does not really believe in the existence of eros since if one is perfect, why does he or she need a partner? He or she is perfect and needs nothing more.

Socrates then discusses his ideas about eros. For him, the "highest form of eros" exists when one contemplates the "Beautiful itself, an abstract and perfect idea of beauty." Socrates goes on to discuss the "nature of desire" and the "aim of desire." Socrates states, in the "nature of desire," that lovers are neither beautiful nor "fulfilled creatures." He states that if they were they would have no desire for things like beauty. Contrastingly, as "deficient creatures," they would be left unaware of their need for things such as eros. Instead, those in search or eros fall somewhere between. They seek out things that they lack in order to possess things such as eros.

In the next section, Socrates discusses eros far more directly. He states that eros does not refer to "sexual desire only." Instead, eros's main goal is happiness. "Sexual desire" is only a way that one can obtain happiness and, therefore, eros.

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